Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Bereavement

PTSD and active duty military

PTSD affecting relationships of active duty military

A number of factors can trigger the occurrence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the military. Given the fact that PTSD is a reaction of the individual psyche to the experience of some traumatic events, military servants belong to the high-risk group of developing the disorder. The primary incentives of the stress in the military veterans are, of course, the threat to life and the feeling of vulnerability on multiple levels. However, the particularly high risks concern the exposure to abusive violence during the military actions or the experiences of combat (Green et al., 1990).

The experiences of combats and violence, as well as stress levels, are so peculiar that the veterans with PTSD feel isolated. The mental distress caused by PTSD expands to all the spheres of life and relationships. Moreover, the behavior of the traumatized individual can cause a secondary traumatic experience in those around him or her (McHugh & Treisman, 2007).

PTSD, military experience, and transaction to civilian life

For many veterans who develop PTSD, the return to civilian life is the most challenging part. Without the psychological training, the family of the PTSD victim does not necessarily understand their personality changes. Therefore, resuming the responsibilities in all the life spheres, including spousal, parenting, social, etc. can be quite problematic (McHugh & Treisman, 2007).

The distress caused by PTSD may result in additional demands for the work and family environment. Unless the family and the community can help a person with PTSD to acclimatize and accommodate their needs, they will be isolated with no opportunity to recover from the traumatic experience. The unpredictable distress may result in violent behavior, including towards those who are insignificant relationships with the person with PTSD, or the development of depression and destructive behaviors (Green et al., 1990).


Description of the case of bereavement

The death of a loved one is an inevitable experience of a human being. The majority of people, when grieving, do not experience pathological psychiatric changes. However, there are different risk factors and the peculiarities of the individual mental environment that can result in severe complications of the process of mourning and grieving (Fox & Jones, 2013).

Servaty-Seib and Taub (2010) explored the exemplary challenges that college students face in bereavement. One of them is that students have to develop a dual model of coping with stress since the objective is to overcome not only the distress of losing a loved one but also the consequences of the loss. They have to cope with finding the balance between social norms, their dedication to the deceased, the pressure of their peers, and sustaining other relationships. It may result in an increased level of isolation and depressive episodes since students discuss their grief less than other age groups (Servaty-Seib & Taub, 2010).

Complications in the diagnosis caused by bereavement

In diagnosing bereavement, the first complication is drawing the line between grieving as the ‘normal’ human reaction and the traumatic distress caused by the death of the loved one (Larson & Hoyt, 2007).

Another complication in the diagnosis is finding the distinction between the experience of bereavement and the major depressive episode. Some practitioners are inclined to believe that in the case of bereavement, the application of intervention and counseling makes it worse. However, the majority of the studies suggest that in the cases with heavy symptoms the bereavement may be viewed as an implication of at least one major depressive episode (Zisook et al., 2012).


Fox, J., & Jones, K. D. (2013). DSM‐5 and Bereavement: The Loss of Normal Grief? Journal of Counseling & Development, 91(1), 113-119.

Green, B. L., Grace, M. C., Lindy, J. D., Gleser, G. C., & Leonard, A. (1990). Risk factors for PTSD and other diagnoses in a general sample of Vietnam veterans. American Journal of Psychiatry, 147(6), 729-733.

Larson, D. G., & Hoyt, W. T. (2007). What has become of grief counseling? An evaluation of the empirical foundations of the new pessimism.Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38(4), 347.

McHugh, P. R., & Treisman, G. (2007). PTSD: A problematic diagnostic category. Journal of anxiety disorders, 21(2), 211-222.

Servaty-Seib, H. L., & Taub, D. J. (2010). Bereavement and college students: The role of counseling psychology. The Counseling Psychologist, 38(7), 947–975.

Zisook, S., Corruble, E., Duan, N., Iglewicz, A., Karam, E. G., Lanuoette, N.,… & Katherine Shear, M. (2012). The bereavement exclusion and DSM-5. Depression and anxiety, 29(5), 425-443.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Bereavement." September 12, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Bereavement." September 12, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Bereavement." September 12, 2023.